I’ve been cooking a lot of Serious Eats recipes lately and this one has been on my ‘to-make’ list for a very long time. Over three years, in fact. I was introduced to the site by a friend of mine in 2013 when he sent me a link to this pan pizza. I love any and all types of pizza but my wife and I are partial to a thinner and crispier crust, so this recipe sat unused for quite some time.
Finally last week in between playing with Maple and trying to figure out how to make a football helmet from Lego I had a chance to make this pizza. As far as pizza recipes goes this one is especially simple. The dough requires little fuss, no fancy stretching techniques, and doesn’t need a stone or steel to cook on. With not much effort you get a cheesy, doughy, and crisp bottomed pizza that has something for everyone.
I’d never made pan pizza before and was excited to sprinkle the cheese all the way over to the edges of the cast iron. When baked it drips down and makes an amazingly crisp and cheesy crust that is so satisfying. Another benefit of making in the pan is the ability to brown the crust more without burning the cheeses.
In a regular oven the solution would be to turn down the heat and cook for longer, but then you dry out your crust. With a pan pizza if your cheese is done but the crust is still soft, just take it from the oven and continue to cook on the stove. One of my pizzas needed a few extra minutes and this allowed me to crisp up the bottom while not overcooking the top. This is a filling meal and might require a nap afterwards. Maple didn’t get any of this pizza but after going for a long swim this weekend happily snoozed for several hours, giving us a much needed break.
- 2½ cups (14 ounces) bread flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1¼ cup water
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
- 12 ounces pizza sauce
- 12 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
- Toppings as desired
- In a large bowl combine flour, salt, yeast, water, and oil in a large bowl. Mix with hands or a wooden spoon until no dry flour remains.
- Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, making sure that edges are well-sealed, then let rest on the counter for at least 8 hours and up to 24. Dough should rise dramatically and fill bowl.
- Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour, then transfer it to a well-floured work surface. Divide dough into two pieces and form each into a ball by holding it with well-floured hands and tucking the dough underneath itself, rotating it until it forms a tight ball.
- Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of two 10-inch cast iron skillets. Place 1 ball of dough in each pan and turn to coat evenly with oil. Using a flat palm, press the dough around the pan, flattening it slightly and spreading oil around the entire bottom and edges of the pan.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough sit at room temperature for two hours. After the first hour, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 500°F.
- After two hours, dough should be mostly filling in the pan up to the edges. Use your fingertips to press it around until it fills in every corner, popping any large bubbles that appear. Lift up one edge of the dough to let any air bubbles underneath escape and repeat, moving around the dough until there are no air bubbles left underneath and the dough is evenly spread around the pan.
- Top each round of dough with ¾ cup sauce, spreading the sauce with the back of a spoon into every corner. Spread evenly with mozzarella cheese, letting the cheese go all the way to the edges. Season with salt. Add other toppings as desired.
- Transfer pan to oven and bake until top is golden brown and bubbly and bottom is golden brown and crisp when you lift it with a thin spatula, 14 to 16 minutes.
- Using a thin spatula, loosen pizza and peek underneath. If bottom is not as crisp as desired, place pan over a burner and cook on medium heat, moving the pan around to cook evenly until it is crisp, 1 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the pizzas and transfer to to a cutting board. Cut each one into six slices and serve immediately.